Food

Welcome to the Neighborhood

When we first moved into our house 16 years ago, we were shocked by how friendly and welcoming our new neighbors were…

We figured it would be like Brooklyn — we’d meet our fellow apartment dwellers eventually, after running into them enough times in the lobby’s mail station, or taking a minute to ask what kind of breed their dog was while riding the elevator. In our suburban hood, we soon found out, our new neighbors took a more active approach. Seth, down the street, showed up on our doorstep with his son and a basket of apples from the local farmer’s market. (Every Saturday from 8:00 to 2:00, he made sure we knew.) Lori, a mom of four (then ages 7 to 13) leaned over her fence when we were moving in the sofa and handed me a card with her cell phone on it (“Ask me anything, anytime,” she told me.) And Madeline, the mother of two middle schoolers across the street, knocked on the door with the most amazing thing: An index card, on which she had sketched the whole block, identifying which family lived in which house. She annotated with phone numbers, names and ages of kids, and little stars to indicate potential babysitters. I still have that index card, even though half of the information is no longer accurate. (Madeline’s house itself has turned over twice since then.) Apparently lives evolve just as quickly in the suburbs as they do in the city.

I was reminded of all this last month when I heard what my friend (and neighbor) Sue gave to a few new families in her town: A bundle of local takeout menus tied up with a bow. (At least I’m picturing them tied up with a bow.)  Obviously, in the age of Seamless, anyone can access a list of local restaurant menus with a single click. But I love the idea of someone hand-picking her favorite spots for a newcomer, maybe even circling standout dishes. How nice is that? What about you guys? What was the nicest thing you did for a new neighbor? Or that a new neighbor did for you?

P.S. An easy way to make new friends and a restaurant surprise I’m still thinking about decades later.

(This post originally ran on Dinner: A Love Story four years ago, syndicated with permission.)

  1. isabelle says...

    Alternative perspective: Giving strangers a map of houses with phone numbers as well as names and ages of children is extremely invasive. Perhaps I’m jaded by having lived next to more than one absolute CREEP in my life, but I would never do this, especially without consulting my neighbors before I shared their information. And I’m no recluse – I live in an apartment and am very friendly with my neighbors. Before lockdown we regularly had movie nights or dinner, and now we will chat outdoors or go walk our dogs together. Still, I’d never just randomly share that information with a stranger or invite them into my home straightaway. I know that people who live in nice suburban neighborhoods feel like it’s safe and that they could identify a creep or a predator but I can assure you that you often cannot. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that every sexual predator is registered. It sucks to think about these things, but wouldn’t you rather be wary about it up front than find out the hard way? There’s no need for excessive paranoia or negativity, but I’d encourage healthy boundaries and limited sharing of personal information until you really trust somebody.

  2. SG says...

    What does it mean to welcome a stranger? It’s a profound question worth considering.

    Seeing this reprint makes me realize how the most nourishing content in recent weeks has become more soulful, authentic, thoughtful and thought-provoking. I welcome that shift and am excited for more.

    I would be really curious to read a follow-up that more profoundly explores ways of forging diverse neighborly connections.

  3. Betsy says...

    My parents made friends with an elderly couple in their neighborhood decades ago and the four of them played cards several times a week for years. They became like grandparents to my sisters and me. When my family moved the neighbors were sad but we didn’t move far so they still played cards for several more years and even went on trips together. I haven’t found this friendship in my neighborhood for myself but my six year old son has made a group of neighborhood best friends that I’m confident will last through high school and beyond.

  4. AzureSong says...

    When my grandparents bought a home in Southern California, they received a letter signed by all the neighbors. It said, get out — we don’t want Chinese people in this neighborhood.

    When my parents bought a home in Santa Barbara, CA, the deed to our house said the property could not be transferred to “Orientals.”

    When I my husband and I were buying a home in the hot LA market, our real estate agent suggested writing a letter to the seller with photos of our family. Uh, no. That only works if everyone is white.

    • Kathryn says...

      Thank you for speaking about this history and a current barrier to any sort of welcome that is all to real for many families moving in to new neighborhoods. There is a great PBS documentary called Jim Crow of the North that tells Minnesota’s history with covenant laws and a mapping project that is working to shed light on this injustice and its generational impact. Your story is an important one to share and I appreciate the trust you showed by telling it!

  5. Bren says...

    I live in the sweetest neighborhood in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee. One day, when I had a baby and a 2 year old, my house started flooding and water was gushing from the upstairs into my downstairs foyer and I had a complete PANIC. My husband was of course out of town, so I called my next door neighbor and she said “I’ll be right there!” She later told me she had left her kids in the church nursery (her husband stayed to get them later!) and showed up at my front door with every towel that she owned! I also ran across the street to the other neighbor and flew open the front door and yelled “MY HOUSE IS FLOODING!” And they too, proceeded to grab every towel they owned and ran over! Her teenage daughters swept up my kids and took them back to their house to entertain them, and neighbors kept pouring in to help! I still have an image of my 2 neighbors with a flashlight, trying to make sense of my jumbled electrical box and yelling at each other across the house “DID THIS TURN THE BATHROOM LIGHT ON!?” I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as loved as I did the day my house flooded!

    • Amy W says...

      I’m laughing, I’m crying…what a story!!!! xo

  6. P says...

    I agree with several comments above that this post is clueless to the fact that non-white families often don’t receive the same warm welcome that the writer did. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for ten years in four apartments and while we’ve had wonderful neighbors each time, we’ve gotten to know them over time. I can’t ever recall the types of gestures or immediate kindness this writer describes. What feels sweet and nice to some readers is, for others, a reminder of how our neighbors often see and treat us differently, and of the kindness we may never receive. I’d love to see CoJ incorporate more awareness of different experiences in the same privileged spaces it features.

    • n says...

      when my husband (white) and i (brown) moved into our apartment, several neighbors thought i was a cleaning woman. a few years down the line after having our first child, some thought i was the nanny (even after seeing me around for years!).

  7. A.Duf says...

    I just started a listserve for my block. I printed invitations and slipped them under every door. It’s been amazing. We share mezcal recommendations, opinions, names of the best plumbers and are starting the share other resources. We even got a great price on an essential summer service because 5 houses signed up!!! It’s made quarantine a little easier.

  8. Dayna says...

    This is a great idea. I moved two years ago from a fairly populated and dense area, to a small town. My neighbors were so welcoming and continue to be incredibly helpful. I think there is a lot to be said for moving to a place where you don’t just see people in passing… taking the initiative to welcome new people is really a very generous and kind thing to do.

  9. Js says...

    This made me do happy to read. We just got new neighbors down the street, and I’ve said a quick hello from across the street. I’m inspired to bring more joy with me and make a basket for them this weekend and drop it by. Thanks!

  10. Jenny says...

    I always create a welcome moving in basket. Water bottles, fruit, nuts, etc all individually wrapped in case of allergies. Wrapped in a cute basket. Moving is hard hungry work!

  11. Nicole A. says...

    I remember when I was in elementary school, our neighbors brought us hand-made baklava! They were from Greece! I remember loving to hear the mother say my name in her accent. I thought it made my name sound so fancy! Sadly, the husband passed away not too long ago.

  12. When our neighbors were moving in across the street I put together a kit for the children filled with sidewalk, bubbles and stickers. So often we forget about the kids when it comes to welcoming them to the neighborhood.

  13. Hanna says...

    What a lovely post! It showed me again how important it is to look out for each other and connect – in the neighbourhood, the workplace, at the grocery store…

    Reading it (and the comment section) also showed me that it is ALWAYS worth it going out of my comfort zone if a simple ‘hi, how are you?’ will make others feel welcome and at home. Thank you for the reminder.

  14. Andrea says...

    This reeks of racial and class privilege and I’m stumped as to why Cup of Jo would think that republishing this (written 4 years ago!) now would serve its readers. Please come up with some original content that is not so tone-deaf to the realities of today (including covid restrictions).

    • S says...

      I’d have to agree with this comment. I’m not sure that it was the best editorial decision to run this piece during June 2020. As much of the commenters have noted, friendliness from neighbors is not a given when you are considered an “other”–of different race or class.

    • Jessica says...

      Andrea – when I first read your comment I was taken back. I thought the post was lovely and a good reminder of neighborly kindness we can give and receive. I even almost wrote a reply defending this position. However, after absorbing your message, I considered my reaction and realized that my reaction was due to the fact that I had never experienced neighborly unkindness, a privilege that was likely due in large part to my whiteness. This was the first time this reality had occurred to me – perhaps yet another form of my privilege.
      I don’t know your race or nationality, but I am deeply sorry if you have experienced neglect or mistreatment from neighbors due to their prejudice. It was and is wrong. I’m grateful for this COJ post as a reminder of ways we can show neighbors we care. I am equally grateful for your comment – it was a wake up call to my own privilege, a privilege I hope to use to make my neighbors who may be mistreated due to their race, nationality, religion, class, sexual orientation, or age feel included and needed on our street and in our community.

    • Jas says...

      Guys, please! This nitpicking has to stop, really! Nothing will be left for writers to write freely if you continue to literally sit and wait for the mistake.

      First of all, Joanna has international audience and I, being from Eastern Europe, did not find that this reeks of class and privilege. I mean, everyone has good neighbours, not just rich, white, people?!

      Also, to assume that Black or Brown people do not live in the nice suburbs, or cannot be great friends with neighbours of other races is actually racist.

      In the end, what does covid have to do with being a good neighbour? I would seriously advise you guys to get more info from your Government and your strict measures, because in my country we have been back to normal since beginning of May (normally going out, visiting friends, neighbours, kids play together, etc.). We do have infections, but they are in 99,9% mild and our epidemiologists said that the virus weakened and it is not as strong as it was in March.

    • K. says...

      Jas-
      I really don’t know where to begin in trying to respond to your comment, which seems to completely miss the point from beginning to end.

      It’s not “nit-picking” to point out that the warm experiences described in the original post and the comments section will not resonate with people who have felt unwelcome, whether overtly or implicitly, when moving into a new neighborhood. The reasons usually are superficial and rooted in typical fault lines of prejudice, such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and “lifestyle” (e.g. a gay couple in a socially conservative town).

      Speaking from just my own personal experience… I grew up in the 1990s in a relatively diverse city statistically, but neighborhoods and various pockets of the city are largely self-segregated by race and ethnicity. After my family moved into a neighborhood where we were the only Asian-Americans at the time, my parents would find anonymous notes (written by seemingly different individuals) in our mailbox that said stuff like, “Your family is not welcome here. Go back to your own country” and “Your kind are supposed to stick to [neighborhood with a high percentage of Asians].” I remember a verbal argument (years after we’d moved in) between my mother and our next-door neighbor about something totally trivial (I think it was gardening or yard-related) where our neighbor spat out, “Is that what you people do in CHINA? Because this is AMERICA. And we don’t do [xyz] in AMERICA. If you don’t like it, you can go back.”

      Of course, as you say, anyone can have “good neighbors” regardless of race or class, and of course POC can and do live in nice suburbs and befriend neighbors of other races. That’s NOT what readers here are trying to point out or why they’re taking issue with this post. I have long adored Jenny’s blog DALS and enjoy her column in CoJ, but I agree this post is yet another example of the many things white, middle-class to affluent people can take for granted and the ways in which they can be oblivious, no matter how well-meaning. (Not to say that white people have a monopoly on being insular and exclusionary – far from it… but it’s probably much more common for there to be one POC family in a white neighborhood, than the other way around.) For those of us who have been met with hostility, coldness, or prejudice upon moving into a neighborhood, it’s another reminder and example of what we miss out on. Instead of gestures of welcome and inclusion, we may be the ones whose families didn’t get the invite to the block party, or the ones that neighbors warn *other* new families about… the ones to whom it’s made clear we’re outsiders and will never belong.

    • KJ says...

      I’ve never been around friendly neighbors but that doesn’t mean I’m offended by one person’s experience on a blog. If you want content that caters to your experience only, don’t come here.

    • Christina says...

      I got mostly amazed by how deeply American the post is. Where I live, new neighbours would never be greeted like in the post, no matter what they look like. So I read it like an interesting cultural observation.
      I guess it is hard for us non-Americans to understand all the underlying dimensions to just about anything written here, but I too think that every post can’t include everyone’s perspective always, and someone can always get hurt by anything.

    • Jas says...

      K.
      I understand where you are coming from with what you wrote and I am sorry for the negative experiences.

      However, I will stick with my opinion. This is Jenny’s experience and she writes about it. Of course, anyone who had negative experiences can write about them in the comments but without pointing fingers and saying that HER story reeks of racial and class privilege.

    • A says...

      Wow, KJ’s comment: “I’ve never been around friendly neighbors but that doesn’t mean I’m offended by one person’s experience on a blog. If you want content that caters to your experience only, don’t come here.”

      Sounds troubling-ly close to the old phrase that non-white people hear all too often: “If you don’t like it here, go back to your country.”

      KJ, no one is offended by Jenny’s post. People are sharing their experiences and pointing how Jenny’s post can be insensitive, especially in light of current times.

      CoJ team, I appreciate how open and inclusive you allow your comments section to be, but I wonder if some hurtful comments warrant some responses from your team and/or the author of the post in question.

  15. Anonymous says...

    As someone else already said in their comment, sorry to be a potential buzzkill — but as I was reading this post, I was waiting for it to turn to the realization that such a warm welcome by neighbors isn’t experienced by many, many non-white people in the U.S. I was disappointed that once again, a post written by a white person was blind to the privilege of such a lovely experience that most non-white families don’t ever get. As a non-white child of immigrant parents, I just hope that our neighbors aren’t mean or cold to us; I would never allow myself to even wish for such friendly, warm gestures that Jenny describes in this post, for fear of disappointment and sadness.

    This also reminds me of when I was dating a white man who was from a small town in Illinois, and when he brought me to visit his family, he talked about how great it was to live in such a small town where everyone felt like one big family, and how he hoped to settle down there one day with a family of his own. He was totally blind to the stares I received from the all-white town and how trying to make myself a home in such a town would be a lovely thing that I could never experience.

    • Y says...

      Reading this made me think of my parents’ stories of immigrating to a small town in the South during the 80s and being met with a lot of hostility. I was fortunate enough to have spent most of my life in a diverse city in California, where I haven’t experienced the same level of hostility my parents did. This reminds me to continue to look out for the immigrant families in my neighborhood and welcome them well. Hopefully I can extend the welcome that my parents longed for and didn’t receive.

      I also resonate with you on the comment about small towns. The idea of living in a small, intimate town sounds lovely, but also seems out of reach for me. I’m even scared to go into the majority-white suburbs outside of my city because of the racial slurs and racially-charged remarks I’ve heard there before. Sometimes living in an urban area feels exhausting and I long for more space and quiet, but I often think that this is going to be as good as it gets for me and my family in America.

    • Laura says...

      Not that this is akin to the experiences of POC, but I also thought about how non-welcoming people are to younger tenants or homeowners. My husband and I bought our condo in our late 20s and when we moved in our neighbors were extremely hostile to us because they assumed we would be partiers or that we were renters who were going to trash the place.
      It’s great to acknowledge neighbor niceties but being a white family gets you a whole different reaction.

    • Jessica says...

      Gosh I’m so sorry you went through this. Thank you for sharing. I’m a white, non-immigrant and slowly waking up to the subtle manifestations of my privilege. It’s not easy, but reading comments like yours helps me see the potential pain I’m causing if I don’t. You seem really lovely and introspective, someone I would like to have as a neighbor (or daughter-in-law! ?).
      If you don’t mind, I’m curious to know specifics on what would have helped you feel less fearful and more seen and included. I assume regular neighborly friendliness, but maybe there’s much more to it than that.

  16. Anu says...

    Thanks for this article! As a non-white person (though not black), I have to admit that “I wonder how this would be different if the people moving in were not white” was the first thought that went through my head. And yes, I think it probably would be different in many parts of the US, unfortunately.

    That said, I did want to call out the neighbors in my pretty urban suburb of Boston. Our upstairs neighbors have been nothing but kind, bringing over a gift basket with local goodies, inviting us over for meals, exchanging gifts with us at the holidays and most recently, offering to take care of our toddler when I have to go to the hospital for my second baby’s delivery. Other neighbors have helped us out with shoveling the car out when it got stuck – several neighbors were actually driving somewhere else, saw our predicament and got out to help. Yet another set of neighbors has become our good friends, and though they’ve moved further away now they’ve helped in countless ways as I navigate a pregnancy during a pandemic. If anything I feel that I’ve been the one to be negligent in making friends of our neighbors. I haven’t felt unwelcome. And as an immigrant to this country, that does mean a lot. There’s still plenty of goodness out there, don’t lose hope, and keep trying to make friends.

    • LK says...

      Shout out to Boston. I wrote below about my big group of neighbors – we just had neighbors move in from Hyderabad, and every few days when we meet outside, the wife comes down to practice her English and have some company! It’s stressful for her, her husband works and she’s pregnant so she really tries not to leave the house at all. I hope for her we are a friendly group of faces she can trust.

    • Holly says...

      Hi Anu,
      Did you study at Emerson College during 2007-08 in the book publishing program? If so, we were in class together! This is so weird, I know, but I happened to see your name and that you live outside Boston and thought I’d ask. I’m Holly – not sure if you’ll remember me! Hope all is well :)

    • Dee says...

      Thanks LK & Holly, good advice!

  17. MK says...

    Our neighbors are great — we live in a small apartment building with two other units, we’re the only apartment with a kid, and they always remember her birthday and give her age appropriate gifts. It’s so kind. They also bring in our packages when we’re out of town, which reminds me I need to send over some thank you cookies!

    I also wanted to give my mom a shoutout for being such a good neighbor; this year she bought graduation cards and slipped in a little gift card to each one for all the houses on her block that had a sign out front saying a graduate lived there.

  18. Claire says...

    What a wonderful read this is! So many good ideas, and so much good will. thanks, all.

  19. Alice says...

    With everything gong on with COVID, we’ve been seeing a LOT more of our neighbours. We have the front, ground floor flat, so are sitting in the living room working every day with a view of the road and the front door. A couple of weeks ago, we saw a steady stream of little children dressed up in magic-related costumes coming to say hello to the little girl who lives downstairs from the doorstep, and we learned from a sign on the front door that it was her sixth birthday. So, we wrote her a card and left that and a box of chocolates outside her front door- our thinking was that it must be rubbish to turn six in lockdown. The next morning, we woke up and went to collect our veg box from the front doorstep, and found a little party bag filled with chocolate frogs, chocolate coins from Gringotts, and ferrero rocher chocolates turned into Golden Snitches, with a little note from the girl saying how happy our card and gift had made her. Honestly, I think it might be my favourite thing that’s happened this year!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, Alice!

  20. RFN says...

    I moved into an apartment in a new city earlier this year and never had much contact with neighbors (NYC style), but early in the pandemic ran into someone dropping flowers for my next door neighbor, who had COVID. I slid a note with my # and offer of help under the door. Since then we have become text buddies, wave at each other from across the street when coming in and out (she recovered and is doing fine), leave food for each other (she is an amazing baker), and have plans to have a huge party when there is a vaccine. I never would have met her–different profession, from another (very interesting) country, no overlap in social circles–and she is a lovely person who has eased the lockdown/quarantine/stay home routine.

    • Katie H says...

      I love this. It’s like a little movie just played out in my head!

  21. Ally says...

    My partner and I moved into an apartment in university that was a house split into 2 units with a big shared yard. Just after we moved the girls in the other unit invited us to a ‘meet and greet’ bbq- they brought their friends, and we bought ours to the shared backyard. And so started the summer of bbqs with our now great big friend group- mostly unplanned, just throw what you have on the grill, on weeknights when you just want to be among friends. We became the kind of friends who are in each others apartments when the other gets home just because we were lonely and genuinely just want to enjoy the others company. We even planned our post university move together and I don’t want to live more than a block away from them if we are in the same city- in fact we tried it and moved within 6 months because when you have friends who are family they should be neighbours.

  22. Dee says...

    This is a heart warming story, but getting close to neighbours can backfire! We bought a house in our suburb 3 years ago and since there’s a train stop a five minute walk away, I quickly got to know some really lovely locals which really helped us feel at home. We call ourselves ‘train friends’ and started having get together all very organically. However the neighbours closest to us immediately wanted to be very very close and sort of presumed we were all going to live in each other’s pockets and we noticed that every time they came over they would have explicit conversations about grown up topics in front of their young kids. Then they would start talking about their dark marital issues also in front of their kids, and the last time they came over the mom got wasted on two drinks and started sobbing to the whole group about her marriage and asking people what she should do. She then threw up in our bathroom and passed out on our couch. Two months ago she invited me and another lady over and told us the most horrific personal things about herself and we could not escape for hours – she doesn’t ask how we are, she seems to think we are there for therapy. Their house overlooks ours and she thinks nothing of starting conversations out her windows the minute we want to go outside and relax. So what I wanted to say is, even if you are neighbours that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to be too close or too forward. (Also, advice on how to handle this welcome!)

    • Amanda says...

      Boundaries! Ask them to stop talking about topics you don’t want to talk about. Stop the conversation or leave if they won’t respect that boundary. It might be awkward, but it’s awkward now so what do you have to lose?

    • Claire says...

      I would say something like this to her, when you have some privacy to say it: “The things you are sharing are serious and must be very difficult for you, and it is not good for anyone to live with that level of stress. I am concerned for you. You don’t seem to be doing well. It’s very important to get help- it seems too much for one person to figure out on their own. I want you to be ok but I am not the best person for you to talk to because I don’t have the background or training to guide you well. I hope you will consider talking to a mental health professional to get the support and guidance that you need to feel better. I’ve been in therapy myself and found it tremendously beneficial. ” And if you feel like it hand her a list of resources and therapist recommendations with their website and phone numbers, and then wish her good luck.

  23. Rachel says...

    I really wish I’d experienced that kind of welcome! When I moved to my current home, we were a young, childless professional couple and the only renters on a cul-de-sac of mostly older, well-established residents. No one welcomed us. We met some of our neighbors eventually, mainly by walking past while they were outdoors — but even that wasn’t a sure way to actually meet them, and in one case we never managed a conversation until my parents came to visit us and the neighbors asked if they were moving in!

    We’ve lived here for years now and I eventually decided that my community wasn’t the street I live on, but if I move again (or if anyone new moves in around here) I’m determined to be the proactive one and reach out right away!

  24. This is such a great idea! Bookmarking it for the future, especially when new medical students move into the area where I live.

  25. A says...

    We just moved from Brooklyn to Florida eight DAYS ago! (I know I know – we moved during a global pandemic from one epicenter to the next epicenter… it could not be avoided!). But anyway, we left the most incredible block full of wonderful neighbors who all looked after one another – and this only grew during the pandemic. What is the reverse tactic – how do we welcome ourselves to a new neighborhood and make friends with the people who already live here? And during a worsening COVID19 situation here???

    • Megan says...

      I feel your pain – we moved during COVID too! We left a note on the doorsteps of the condo below ours with our phone numbers, a sealed package of cookies, and an offer to help if they needed anything. A week later they texted asking to borrow a cup of sugar and now we regularly trade off baked goods and extra helpings of meals. We wave when we see each other, say hi from a distance, and have plans to hang out once it’s safe again. You’ve got this!

    • Emily says...

      We moved from Central New York to Maine in April, and a few weeks before we moved I sent little notes in the mail to the four closest neighbors to our new house, addressed to “New Neighbor.” I told them a little about our family and gave them our contact info. I had been really nervous that everyone would hate us arriving with our New York license plates during the pandemic, but I received such warm, welcoming emails from all four of the neighbors. And they’ve all been really sweet in person, we’ve been very lucky. We did go out and get our new Maine plates as soon as possible, though! Good luck!!

    • Natasha says...

      As a Floridian, from my experience with neighbors, it’s not typical to have immediate outreach from neighbors. Especially in South Florida, people are often very transient, never staying put anywhere too long, much less long enough to form solid bonds with neighbors. One suggestion is to smile and say hello to everyone. A warm greeting can do so much, and oftentimes, people do not expect it at all! The best way to get close to neighbors and really, just meet your neighbors in Fl is to get a dog! Dogs are the best ice breakers. We just moved from our neighborhood outside of Fort Lauderdale, where we had lived for 12 years, and our dog enabled us to make friends all over the neighborhood; we met so many people because of her. When she died, we soon felt really cut off since we no longer had a reason to walk miles throughout the neighborhood constantly. Most people tend to keep to themselves in my area, but having a dog and getting out into the neighborhood several times a day, allows you to meet everyone and get to know each other. Not sure where in FL you are, but attitudes vary throughout the state. South Florida is not known for its friendliness, while the central coast, center of the state, the Panhandle, the southwest coast are known for being much kinder and friendlier. Wishing you all the best in my home state!

    • K. D. says...

      The exact same way as you wish to be welcomed – you make banana bread, homemade cards from your kids introducing yourselves and providing your cell numbers, cookies and you wave and walk them over. When we moved cities with 2 elementary aged kids, the new neighbors seemed so busy and unavailable. And it would be easy to allocate intent (we are a multi-racial family moving south from the north). But instead of pre-judging with no info, we built a community. A good old “come meet us we’ve got cookies” sign did wonders while having an outdoor sidewalk chalk and bubble fest. Nice people who live busy, full lives stopped and said hi and met the kids and ate cookies. And that turned into friendly waves and hellos in passing, which developed into a few dear friendships. Want a garden, plant a seed. Want a community, get to building.

  26. Christie says...

    When we bought a house in a tiny rural college town, we planned to renovate the house right away. On the first day of our reno, our single older next door neighbor sat on his porch & waved, and we waved back. On the second day, he sauntered over (watching me try to remove a large bush), and said “Mind if I help?” He showed up every day after that whenever we worked on renovating, came to every family or friends party we had, including holidays, and became our adopted family member as he had no family of his own. We only knew him 5 years before he died, but when he became ill, my father took him to every doctors appointment he had, we all took him food and tried to help, and my dad was named as his next of kin at the hospital. We became family. Be friendly to your new neighbors xo

    • Jackie says...

      Brought tears to my eyes. How heartwarming!

  27. Jana says...

    Definitely not my experience as the child of immigrants and a visible minority. Moved to 3 family centred neighbourhoods in my childhood and not one person knocked to welcome us. Sounds lovely for those who experience this. For others, it’s not even something we expect.

    • Yara says...

      Hey Jana,
      Me and my family have experienced the same in the Netherlands, we were very much unwelcome. I’m sorry you had to experience that too, hope we can do better for next generations!

    • Amanda says...

      I’m so sorry you haven’t been welcomed to your neighborhoods Jana – you should have been.

    • A says...

      Jana, you are not alone. I had a very similar experience growing up — brown immigrant family in a white suburb. It was a very alienating, lonely experience. This piece is objectively nice, and I was honestly surprised as I read this sweet story how much anger and resentment it brought up in me as I remembered my own very different experience. Sadly, in certain suburbs, not everyone is treated with such a warm welcome.

  28. Kamisha Sullivan says...

    Last year we moved in at the peak of summer. Neighbors invited us and others to swim three days after moving in. The most spontaneous choice to go but our family of five is so glad we did. Feels appropriate to say we just “dove in!”

  29. Jordan says...

    My husband and I moved from FL to Chicago for our residencies. We had both just driven two full days, him in the moving truck towing one car and me in the second car. We were sweaty, stressed, and exhausted when we arrived to our old triple decker. Our landlord happened to be having dinner at his in-laws down the street and walked over with his two teenage sons and unloaded our entire moving truck for us. It was our first introduction to the genuine midwestern kindness we’d grow so fond of and I’ll never forget those sweet boys!

  30. I have never been friends to any neighbors my entire life, but this past year I became a mom and found ways to reach out to them (slipping notes excusing for the noise in the night I went into labor at home) and keep in contact later (as 2 of them were first time new moms as well!). We ended up supporting each other during post partum, sending baby food to each other’s doors or exchanging toys and books so the kids are entertained during pandemic days… it’s so amazing to be isolated in our apartment but feel you have company in the building :)

  31. Rose says...

    We will be moving in the next couple of months to a new state and some of the hardest people to break the news to were our beloved neighbors (we had a good cry together). During the pandemic, we’ve been so grateful for our wonderful neighborhood community and the built in social interactions from our stoops & sidewalk. One of the ways we’ve all been connecting throughout the pandemic and before is dropping baked goods on one another’s door step or passing it over the fence. Sourdough, pie, cookies, banana breads have been our neighborhood love language. If you have them, dogs and gardening are another favorite way to build relationships with neighbors… we’re always passing around seeds, transplants, and excess crops around the neighborhood, and telling silly dog stories.

  32. Sarah says...

    Our boys are best mates with the neighbours boys. They’ve knocked a hole through the fence to get to each other quickly. This is a classic NZ thing so it makes me feel like my kids childhood is going ok.

    • Neela says...

      Love that- reminds me of my brother and his BFF (literally- he just gave the best man speech at my brother’s wedding, 40 years later) in our gardens in Sydney <3

  33. KN says...

    It feels so hard to get to know my neighbors! I live in an apartment building in a big city and it definitely has an anonymous feel, although we know our next-door neighbors. I’ve introduced myself to countless people in the building and have gotten to know some dogs, but it’s hard to know how to follow up with the people who seem friendly in the lobby, since I don’t know which apartments are theirs.

    I think part of the challenge is uncertainty on my part. My husband and I are mid-30s, thinking about having a baby, and in our building, lots of people seem very different from us — there’s definitely a younger, cooler vibe, lol — and even though part of the beauty of neighbor friendships is that they don’t have to be BEST friends, it still feels uncertain.

    Part of me also feels ambivalent about our privacy, that building friends could knock on the door at any time, or get us wrapped up into a long conversation when we’re tired, not in the mood, or rushing out to work. I feel like my friendships are SO scheduled, and while I romanticize the idea of being buds with neighbors, I also fear that it might feel burdensome or like a lack of privacy.

    I feel like I totally romanticize the idea of a cozy, buddy-buddy neighborhood, but I also really value privacy and home as a space where I don’t have to be “on” or meet others’ expectations. Where is the middle ground?! I’m so curious to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    • Brooke Kunz says...

      I know what you mean! We are friends with our neighbors for the first time, and while it’s fun, I sometimes hide from the doorbell in my towel or avoid going outside because I’m in a bad mood and don’t want to talk, etc. :-/ Our neighbors have a boy that is my daughter’s age, and they always invite my daughter over to play. But the mom always lets them watch tv the whole time and eat potato chips, so then I feel obligated to invite the boy to my house so they can have imaginative playtime and eat carrot sticks, haha.

    • Erin says...

      My neighbor-friends and I have each other’s cell numbers and we mostly set stuff up via text. Occasionally we have a longer chat because we ran into each other outside, but mostly it’s not that different from other friendships. It isn’t intrusive and it can be really nice to be able to do stuff with people who live close to me.

    • Katia says...

      I feel you! It can feel vulnerable and scary to make connections with those in close (and frequent!) proximity to you. I have recently moved across the country and surprisingly found great friendships in my new neighborhood. It can definitely feel inconvenient at times to have interactions when I’m not in the mood, but the connections and sense of community really outweighs those slight frustrations. As far as balance, I would keep your boundaries in mind and set the tone for the friendships you’re looking for. For instance, I have one neighbor who will talk and talk. He’s so sweet and an older gentleman so sometimes I just listen for as long as he wants to go for, but if I really don’t have the time or feel like it I have my “exit” reason ready when we encounter one another. One wonderful thing about him is that he is quite the neighborhood watchman and I feel so secure knowing he’s looking out for me and my family! Once you start to make these connections you really will see the benefit in nurturing community. There will be give and take, but thats with everything in life! All the best =)

    • Ally says...

      I hear you about privacy but I feel like if you really click and become the type of friends who would just pop over, you would also have the level of relationship where you can just be honest (I believe in honesty in all friendships but its kind of a nonnegotiable in this situation). If you’re not feeling it just say that! Life is too short to hang out with someone because you are being ‘polite’. Imagine if a friend did that to you- by the sincere concern for others that I hear in your note here I don’t think that you would be mad at them- so they likely won’t be mad at you either.

  34. Jennifer S. says...

    We live on a hobby farm, with sheep, hens, and honeybees. We introduced our new neighbors (former cityfolk) to all the animals and sent them home with honey and eggs. I needed them to like our menagerie and not be put off by the smells, sounds, and stings of our critters!

  35. I like this idea a lot.
    Whenever possible, we should all order food directly from the restaurant, so the Seamless/DoorDash/GrubHubs of the world don’t take too big a cut of the restaurant’s money!

  36. Stacey Gehl says...

    My son and I moved to the city from the country after a breakup in my marriage. My new neighbour wasted no time coming over, introducing herself and giving us a potted plant. With the plant was a hand written note about the history of the house we bought and wishes that only happy memories be made within our new walls.
    She even invited me over for tea in her garden. Who does that? Needless to say, she put the biggest smile on my face in a difficult time.
    The gesture will never be forgotten.

  37. V says...

    My block is my favorite thing about where we live, and even though our house now feels too small and cluttered, I don’t think we can ever leave. We have a block party. We have a block-specific list-serv. We have a moms’ text chain; we have a dads’ text chain. I know spring has arrived when I’m walking home from the Metro and I hear the kids on our block scooting and biking before I even see them. We take care of each other’s pets when we (used to) go on vacations. We organize an annual Thanksgiving “crawl,” countless water balloon fights for the kids, and almost weekly “ally ralleys” to ward off the Sunday scaries. I am never more than 30 seconds away from a missing dinner ingredient or a stoop wine companion. My neighbors are not my closest friends – we’re all very different – but every time anyone on the block needs anything, there are always a dozen offers of help. It is a community and a home and I feel unbelievably lucky to be a part of it.

  38. Jean says...

    Hey! I love this post, and I’m also a fan of “Dinner a Love Story.” However, in the wake of all of you posts about race, I would encourage you to view all your posts in through this lens. My family are Asian immigrants, and we moved to a small town in Maine. Other families in this neighborhood received this welcome, but we did not. People threw bottles onto our lawn and called my father terrible things. No one spoke to us.

    My mother still lives in that house, and when my father passed away, no one came by. To this day, no one speaks to her. What you wrote is beautiful, and I hope to experience it one day with my own family. But things like this are also racial. I don’t want to be a buzz kill! This one just hurt with everything that’s going on.

    • Anuja V says...

      I dont think you are alone in this experience but I am sure it was horrible. I wish people were more welcoming! Hugs, Anuja

    • Alex says...

      I say you write the next post.

    • Rosie says...

      Thank you for sharing your story! We all need to be using a racial lens, and it’s great that you called this out. You’re not a buzz kill; you’re helping us all do better.

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for this comment. I was thinking of the same thing as I was reading, that some people are not able to so easily expect a neighborly welcome, and even might experience overt aggression.

    • S says...

      Jean I’m so sorry to hear this. Your mom sounds incredibly strong.
      My parents were immigrants too, and I am only just now starting to understand how hard that must have been.
      Thank you for bringing up this important perspective!

    • Hollie says...

      I’m so sorry for that experience, but you’re right. And a Black family may not feel safe welcoming a new white neighbor either! My suburb is a mix of ethnicities but more than half white, and people really don’t mix much.

    • K says...

      Thank you for this comment, Jean. This post (and the comments about lovely welcomes into a new neighborhood) has taken on such new meaning after reading your comment. I see my privledge and the privledge of so many who take for granted the idea of neighborliness and kindness (and to have it tied up in a bow!) I’m so very sorry your family was treated this way.

    • Anon says...

      This hurts my heart. It brings back memories of the excitement I felt as a young child moving to a new neighborhood, only to find we were not welcome. The outside of our home (in a nice, middle class neighborhood) was vandalized a couple of times. I remember feeling so sad for my dad when I saw him talking to a police officer to report it. I remember random strangers making racial comments towards me and my sister and feeling so embarrassed. So sorry for others that have had similar experiences moving to a new neighborhood.

    • Emily says...

      Thank you for this reminder, Jean. We have new neighbors who moved in up the street. They are Black, we are White, the neighborhood is mixed but largely Latinx. I’ve been putting off saying hello because I don’t want to knock on the door in a pandemic and I don’t see them out in their yard very much (we have 2 kids and a dog and a small house so we are outside A LOT). And, I guess, I’ve been hesitant because I don’t want them to feel I’m over excited in that I’m-white-but-I-support-your-blackness-and-I-get-these-are-intense-times kind of way. But, come on, that’s BS. A neighbor is a neighbor and should be welcomed. Tomorrow I’m going to leave a note in their mailbox and a few sprigs of lavender from our garden.

    • Joy says...

      Ii too felt the same when reading that post. I thought of all the hardships and disdain so many other people have experienced yet never brought to the forefront like this. So many stories, so many skin colors. I’m sorry your family experienced what you did.

    • NH says...

      I don’t want to diminish your hard experience, but when my family lived in Central Asia when I was growing up the neighbors mostly came over to ask questions about our family i.e. how much my mother weighed and what could they have. I will never forget the Malaysian family who welcomed us with food over the back fence. We were fellow expatriates and we were having an incredibly hard time learning to bargain for food in the markets in a foreign language, etc. I learned from the kindness they showed us I have always been open and kind to any neighbor having observed such a wonderful example. Right now we have Indian neighbors who could not be nicer. Cross-cultural interactions challenge us all to be others centric. I thought this article was helpful in encouraging us to be others centric.

    • Riley says...

      I absolutely agree. As I was reading this post all I could think about was the gentrification of Brooklyn — the racial lens must go with us everywhere.

    • madeleine says...

      That is so sad. I’m so sorry for your family, Jean. I hope this post — and your comment — inspires the readers here to take action to be fully inclusive when they welcome neighbours. Speaking as a (white) immigrant, it meant the world to me when members of the small rural community I moved to braved the language and cultural barrier to welcome our family. Our interactions were awkward and I imagine it took some courage to approach people from a different country, whom they knew nothing about, when so many of this village have lived here for generations and grown up together. But it made such a huge difference.

    • M says...

      Yes, thank you for your comment, Jean! I moved to Maine, too, as an adult, and have felt very out of place here, as well. I am white, so your family’s story is not my own, but I can sympathize with encountering a similar sense of unwelcome.

      I thought I about my experiences moving to Maine, as they have been so different other places I’ve lived.

      For CoJ staff, as well as race, I wonder what the impacts of class would have one this story. Being able to move from the city to the suburbs is (usually) a privileged thing – and indeed very limited only to those who have enough resources to do so. I love that y’all are working to be more inclusive and representative of your readers/the world, it’s just that feeling safe in a neighborhood is hardly a common experience.

    • K, again says...

      Hi M,
      I’m not sure your experience of feeling unwelcome is the same or even similar to the racism that Jean described. I’ve been listening and I’ve been learning and now I’m sharing: M, you are trying to recenter this comment around your own experience in order to create a narrative that makes you feel more comfortable and you are dismissing the clear racism that Jean recounts by bringing up class and suggesting that class should play an equal role in talking about race. These are two very common ways that white people dismiss racism, it’s uniqueness and the trama that it causes. I have learned that comparisons like the one you are making to your own experience—even if we’ll intentioned—are not helpful or empathetic and that empathy isn’t the goal of becoming anti-racist. White people cannot empathize with racism—the unwelcome-ness we can feel from time to time is also rooted in the privledge of expecting to feel welcome. The best white people can do is acknowledge racism and fight against it—without comparisons or equivocation.

  39. Melissa says...

    A year ago we moved into a wonderful neighborhood. It is a blast from the past complete with milk and bread deliveries to your door and children that are always playing outside together. We came from a neighborhood where everyone kept to themselves, and within 24 hours of moving in here, we had received more baked goods and bottles of wine than you can even imagine. The neatest thing though was paper lanterns. The neighborhood does illumination nights every August (a la Martha’s Vineyard) and people brought us lanterns to start a collection! It makes my heart swell just thinking of it and we certainly pay it forward to all new neighbors moving in.

    • Laurie says...

      I’m intrigued- would you consider posting a photo of the lanterns? Sounds lovely

  40. When I first moved to NYC (specifically the Upper West Side) in 2010, I was 22 and single, and had never set foot in the city (I am from a small town in South Carolina and moved here for my first job out of college). My first night in my apartment, weeks before my furniture would arrive, my downstairs neighbor left an air mattress and its pump on my doorstep with a note: “I thought you might need this.” And thus began the loveliest relationship with her ~ the whole brownstone, really ~ that continues to this day. I lived out my 20s there. When my now-husband left the morning after our first sleepover, she winked and said, “Good for you.” And when we were married, she gave us a beautiful, carved wooden bowl: “It feels right for a wedding.” I was devastated to leave her after seven years, when we were expecting our first baby and needed more space (and walls!) than that sweet 250 square foot studio offered. But now and then, three years after moving across the neighborhood, we pop by to visit with her, with our toddler son and my once-again rounding belly :) I am crying writing this. Oh, Karen.

    was devastated when my

  41. Betsy says...

    Need COJ readers’ help with this neighbor situation: there’s a girl down the street in the same class as my 15 year old daughter. I think they’d be good friends. My daughter is too shy to introduce herself (from a safe distance of course), and she says she’s okay with not meeting the girl, but also my daughter doesn’t talk to a lot of friends this summer and seems unhappy. Is it appropriate for me to leave a note on their door with my daughter’s name and text?

    • Amanda says...

      Nope. If she says she doesn’t want to, you’d be going against her wishes and implying that her wants and preferences aren’t valid. You can certainly probe more as to why she has those preferences and offer your support and guidance. At most, you could befriend the neighbor girl’s parents and then see if your daughter and their daughter would like to get together when you’re hanging out with the adults.

    • AG says...

      No. Encourage your daughter to make friends but let her be. She will find her way and when she does she’s learned a life skill.

    • M says...

      What if you reach out to her mom and try to take it from there? I’m not sure. I have younger kids though. So I’m still in this weird time where I have to take the lead with arranging playdates.

    • Y says...

      Hi Betsy. Reading COJ while sitting next to my 16 yr old daughter, so I asked her about your plight and she screamed NO! Sorry, but I guess that would be a bad idea. She says she would be mortified. She suggest that you invite the family over for dinner, but with the quarantine I don’t know if that’s possible. Maybe an outdoor/social distance BYOB so they can meet without it being too awkward. Good Luck!

    • K says...

      I appreciate your intent, but as someone who has worked with adolescents for the past ten years (teaching & counseling), I give this a nope. If she seems unhappy, try asking some open-ended questions about how she’s doing, express that you care about her, and ask her how you can help. Even if she doesn’t seem particularly appreciative in the moment, it’ll probably help.

    • amelia says...

      no!!! that would be mortifying

    • Betsy says...

      I very much appreciate the replies and have an update: my daughter reached out to a friend who knows the neighbor girl from student council, and now my daughter and neighbor girl are texting.

    • nandi says...

      Wow Betsy! Your last reply made me so happy!! I hope it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! ;)

  42. K says...

    this is so sweet. I love monetarily worthless tiny thought-gifts full of heart.

  43. Saedi says...

    My husband and I recently moved from Seattle to Brooklyn. In Seattle it was the usual, hardly see your neighbors, nod in the hallway routine. Here in BK, the very first time the couple across the hall saw us, they came over, introduced themselves and recommended a local coffee shop down the street. Since then they’ve copied their key to the backyard so we could both garden and we shared a thank you note with packets of flower seeds in return. So floored to realize after a lifetime in the PNW that “Seattle Freeze” is real and so glad to be in BK!

  44. Grace says...

    I love this! One of the best things that came out of the COVID lockdown was getting to know my neighbors. My husband and I have lived in our apartment in Oakland for 5 years, but we barely knew our neighbors until now. There’s also a small courtyard in our building that families take turns letting their kids run around in. My 18-month-old loves standing at the window and yelling at whoever’s playing outside, and other neighbors poke their heads out to see what all the commotion is. This started friendships with more of the residents in our building.

    We began an ongoing exchange of food among the people in our building, leaving produce and baked goods at each others’ doors. Some families started a tiny vegetable garden on the top of our building. And a few weeks ago, one family set up a grill by the dumpsters and made hotdogs that they delivered to everyone. I’m not sure if that last one is totally sanitary and wise in the time of COVID, but it made me laugh.

  45. Bec says...

    I love this! Last year, I moved to El Paso, TX and I love our neighborhood so much. It’s very walkable and friendly, and it has a lot character, most of the houses built in the 20s-50s. You can’t take a walk without seeing at least 3 people you know. As for the nicest thing done to me….well my angel neighbor gifted me his 100 yo grand piano!! (I’m a professional pianist)

  46. Agnès says...

    I mobed to Paris mid december 2019 with my husband and our 6 year old. It took us a whole day to move the furniture from the hall to the 4th floor and we used the elevator the whole time. I thought the neighbours would hate us: 1. someone left a bag of chocolates in a nice little bag, on our door (no card on it whoch I find even more amazing)! It really helped my son to feel this new plave was a home (is a home ;-).
    I love my neighbours and neighbourhood.

  47. Kat O says...

    We’ve been in our new house over a year and have, quite literally, never even SEEN one of our neighbors (we’re in the suburbs but it’s more on the rural side, and we have dense trees and bushes on our sides and acres of woods behind us). We’re down the block from the fire station, and when we moved I meant to make them cookies, but it’s a volunteer department and no one is there full time so…I guess we fall on the “bad neighbor” side of the spectrum. Although to be fair, absolutely no one has reached out to us either!

  48. Jill says...

    We moved into our first home outside Chicago in February, after living in Brooklyn apartments for over a decade. Multiple neighbors brought over baked goods, added us to the neighborhood email list, and have stopped by to introduce themselves while we are gardening. The first time someone knocked on my door at 7pm my inclination was to ignore it but it was the neighbor across the street with homemade brownies. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming, it’s still taking time getting used to. Brooklyn was plenty friendly but this feels even more intimate.

  49. Scarlett says...

    We live in a rural neighborhood in Ohio. Shortly after we moved in, my husband and I got married in our backyard. We introduced ourselves to our neighbors the day after with slices of extra wedding cake. Our neighbors have returned the favor since then with May-day flowers, extra egg cartons for the eggs our chickens lay and cooking us dinner! We have a lovely little road out in the country!

  50. jackie says...

    i live in a NYC apartment and when I first brought my anxious pup home a few years ago, i left both my neighbors a note with a bar of chocolate apologizing for any barking that was done while I was at work while he got used to being alone. I included my cell number should there be any major issues that they needed to reach me for. I did it again this past year when I moved into a new building, again apologizing for any barking that occurred as my pup got to know his new home. While I wouldn’t call my neighbors my friends, they all have told me how thoughtful it was and how much they appreciated the gesture!

  51. Jess says...

    These are so nice! The former owners of our house left us two urns with their dead dogs in a kitchen cabinet, along with a lovely commemorative paw print…. Fortunately this was not on purpose. When notified they were suitably chagrined (poor puppies!) and came to pick up Paco and Lulu within the week.

    • Savannah says...

      This made me laugh out loud.

  52. Meg says...

    This comment thread makes me feel like an absolute monster. I have never thought of doing anything like this, and after 20 years in various neighborhoods in the city, I have rarely known my neighbors.

    • jane says...

      Isn’t it cool how easy this will be to change? I don’t think it requires a move either.

      The suburban street I am on is full of relative strangers who do not interact. When I put a corona garden on the front lawn, (better sun than out back which is shaded by large old trees), back in March, (concerned produce might disappear from shelves if migrant workers were banned seasonal entry), I potted each neighbor on the block an African marigold that I had started earlier from seed – look them up they are AWESOME.
      Then I just dropped them off at their door with a note saying “be well – we’ll get through this!”.

      But it could just as easily say something like Happy Summer.

    • Grace says...

      Haha! You’re not the only one Meg. I’ve generally avoided my neighbors and the only reason they have ever become friends is because my husband is so outgoing and starts the conversations.

    • Sara says...

      Grace, same here! I’ve given myself permission to be introverted and not feel like I have to be social when I’m home.

    • AG says...

      You are not alone, another monster here hey neighbor! The most one will get is a quiet smile/nod combo. And I appreciate that I get treated the same.

  53. CJ says...

    In the active duty military community, where you often move every 2-3 years, military families be are pros at welcoming new neighbors. On a military base where turnover is high, it’s not unusual to ask your neighbor – who you’ve literally just met – to be the emergency contact on your kid’s school and extracurricular activities application forms. (Because you’re usually moving from out of state and don’t know anyone). We’re all in this together!

  54. Kristin says...

    There is a local bakery and sandwich shop that has become special to me because it’s the first place I ate after moving to Virginia 8 years ago. I ended up meeting my husband here and we now have a toddler. The bakery remained special to us, as we could walk to it from our first home together. It’s where we told my husband’s grandparents I was pregnant and also where we gave the same news to one of my best friends. The weekend before we moved into our house last year, we ate there, although I was slightly disappointed they were out of cinnamon rolls, my favorite thing they make. The night we moved, our new next door neighbors brought over a box of baked goods and a plant. We came to learn, our neighbor actually owns that bakery, and had included a cinnamon roll in the box. They are lovely neighbors and that connection is definitely one I’ll never forget!

  55. Katie says...

    We give our new neighbors a gift card to my husband’s restaurant – it’s a pizza place, and everyone likes pizza! It’s obviously nice for us to get new business, but it also gives us something to talk about with the neighbors… it’s a thing they know about with us so it can serve as an icebreaker before we know much else about each other.

  56. Fiona says...

    We just moved in in February, just in time for covid! After years in tiny DC apartments, we’re now in a tiny DC house, but one of our neighbors showed up with a welcome card, her phone number, a bottle of wine from the local liquor store, and the address of the FB neighborhood group. She announced our arrival and our address on the group once we joined and everyone made us feel so welcome! in the few months we’ve lived here we now know 16 households and are constantly texting to check in as needed (one goes to costco for us, we do peapod for them, I made masks for another family, and another gentleman cut our grass while we were gone visiting family). I am so very grateful!

  57. Emma says...

    I need to be better about trying to know my neighbors. My husband and I know the name of just about every single dog in our neighborhood, and everyone knows and loves our dog, but we don’t know one another! Anyone else have this problem?

    • Kelly S. says...

      Emma, yes, you are my person! I love this so much. :)

    • Erin says...

      I have a worse problem, which is being unable to remember if George is the name of the cute terrier who lives around the corner from me, or if that’s the name of his human!

  58. Ellen says...

    Our apartment building in DC is a U shape, so our living room windows look into the living room of the apartment across the hall from us. The day after we moved in we found a bottle of Champagne and a welcome card from that neighbor with her cell number on it! It was the first time we’d ever received a gesture from a neighbor and I was so touched. Fast forward a few months to the start of quarantine, the mailman had accidentally placed some of her mail in my slot, so I left it by her door with a little note and my cell number this time, telling her to knock/text if she needs anything. She reciprocated with a beautiful bottle of red wine at our door and we texted a bit :) We’ve also had conversations through our windows and done a little show and tell of our cats, it was so cute! At first I felt weird that we’re always looking into each other’s lives when the blinds are up, but I think we both take comfort knowing someone else is there looking out for the mail or ready with a bottle of wine.

  59. Megan says...

    When I was growing up, we moved a lot. My mom started putting together a binder for each house that she would leave for the new owners – paint chips with a note on which rooms they were used in, restaurant recommendations, a note about the neighbors with names and little details, appliance manuals, etc. We recently moved and did this for the owners of the new house. I hope it was helpful to them, but it was also a nice way to remember all the things we loved about the house and neighborhood. Since moving to our new neighborhood, our signature welcome gift to new neighbors is a bottle of wine and an assortment of cookies. It’s been a great way to build new connections. We moved into a new development so we’re getting lots of new neighbors all the time.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      This is so wonderful. It reminds me of my best friend’s mother, who planted daffodil bulbs in front of her house in the fall, even though she knew she and her husband (who had lived in the house for 40 years and raised their children there) weren’t going to be there in the spring to appreciate them blooming, but someone else surely would. Paying it forward in the most beautiful way.

    • London says...

      When we moved into our house in February we knew we wanted to throw a big party. So we walked to all the neighbors and invited them, too! Every house that faces ours (5) came by! Now we drink beer in our front yards and have socially distant chats and the kids run though everyone’s yards. Feels like a fairy story after years of apartment living, but everyone was just waiting for a chance to be friends.

    • Nancy says...

      Your comment made me recall that when I moved from my last house — a mid-divorce traumatic move from the “dream house” where I’d expected to live forever and welcome back my children and their eventual families — I left a folder with as much information as I could gather on the house (service people recommendations, garden info, paint info, appliance manuals, etc.) along with a “welcome to your new home” card, a bottle of champagne and two beautiful coffee-table style books with history and photographs of the town and lake. Not a word from the new owners or their realtor, even when I asked my realtor if they’d received it. Maybe I am too sensitive, but it would have been nice to have heard they appreciated the gesture, especially since they knew the circumstances of our forced move.

  60. Liana says...

    We are closing on our house and moving next week (Philly suburbs). I am from Brooklyn and have lived in apartments most of my life and never really knew any of my neighbors. Here, the seller already sent us a letter welcoming us to the neighborhood, listing all his favorite things about the house and the area, introduced us to the next door neighbors and has left us his piano and a few other pieces of furniture! I am so excited to move into our home and haven’t felt this good about any move ever before! And, I’m excited to get to know our neighbors:)

  61. Erica says...

    When we moved into our townhouse a few years ago, we had to do some noisy renovations. We got all of our neighbors $10 Starbucks gift cards, and put those along with a little “sorry for the construction, hope to meet you soon!” note in their mailboxes. We got some nice feedback and I like to think it helped us make friends there more quickly!

  62. Lee says...

    I love reading these! I live in an apartment building in DC, and became good friends with a neighbor after I checked on her after she had a break-in. She was in the middle of filling out the police report and I asked if she needed a drink (I offered gin or wine or seltzer–she took the seltzer). She is one of my most precious friendships from my time here, despite the fact that she recently moved back home due to COVID. Anyway–all that to say, is there is no wrong time to make an introduction!

  63. Olivia says...

    As I was reading this, I kept thinking “this sounds exactly like my hometown.” I did some sleuthing and discovered I grew one town over from you. The one that starts with an H ;) It’s really quite the little conglomeration of small towns. We moved from the Bronx when I was in middle school, and I remember being so confused about why people kept saying hi to me on the street. I didn’t know these people! But eventually I acclimated. Now I love going back home and seeing our neighbors’ kids (now in high school) who I babysat before the younger one was even born!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      haha, hi from D!

  64. Lauren says...

    My across the hall neighbors and I moved in the same week; we both had some minor cosmetic renovations to do (I was painting, they were taking down a popcorn ceiling) so we both were pretty busy and distracted. We’re friends now but both convinced we made a terrible first impression on each other!! The first time I walked into them I said hello and they remember being short and just “hello” and practically shutting the door in my face, though I don’t remember it that way at all!! And then later that week, they came over with brownies and I was covered in paint and caught so off guard I remember just thanking them and shutting the door before they could even introduce themselves, which they don’t remember me doing ??

    • shannon says...

      Oh I love this. Everyone remembered the positives (New neighbor said hi! Brownies!) and completely forgot the negatives. This is why it’s good to just do anything to reach out to your neighbors. They probably won’t remember the awkward thing you did as much as they will just be happy you introduced yourself.

  65. Emma says...

    I never really understood why people loved Brooklyn so much. For me living in Manhattan( the placed I always wanted to be) in the EV to be more exact was everything. But then, I realized that people in Bk were very friendly ( something that Manhattan lacks) You do get used to, but later is a culture shock when you leave the borough or even the state. I’m in Denver( 2 weeks before pandemic) and now and I’m getting used to people saying hello on the sidewalk and smile. PS I have many friends in Bk and planning on visiting soon

    • Christy says...

      Hi from just south of Denver in the burbs! We are a friendly group for the most part. Hope you enjoy this beautiful state.

  66. This is the sort of thing I would love to receive but never think to do! The house across the street from me is for sale right now — I will bookmark this for when it is sold!

  67. I have had a hard time getting to know neighbors in my suburb. When the pandemic hit I sewed a couple masks and left them in a bag with a note that included my phone number. I heard from every single neighbor who received one, many who reciprocated with little gifts. Now I am on friendly terms with people in ten different homes around me.

  68. Allison says...

    So much of this depends on where you live. We lived on a quiet street in Seattle for 3 years and only knew the names of one other family on the block. Since moving to Raleigh 4 years ago we’ve lived on two different streets and our neighbors have basically been family to us in both places.

    And yes the map of the neighborhood families is so helpful! I had forgotten that someone on our last street gave us one. We have a new family moving in a couple of weeks from now and I’m going to make sure we give them one!

    • Kristen says...

      Hi Allison! I live in Raleigh too! :)

  69. Keri says...

    We live in a historic neighborhood in DC. Our neighbors had done research on the history of our block and gave us a copy of the historical drawing and tenants of the house. It was such an interesting and warm welcome to the hood!

    • Megan says...

      This is so awesome and fun! How fun to read and learn about the history of where you live

  70. Amy says...

    When I moved into my first house, a neighbor stopped by with a little gift basket and told us to join the neighborhood for coffee on Saturday. A neighbor hosts coffee every Saturday from 11-1, which was a great way to get involved and meet people!

    • Angela says...

      Would love to have more details! How does the neighbor execute this?

  71. ks says...

    we recently moved to DC – mid-covid19 shutdown – and our upstairs neighbors shared with us their wifi information so we could get settled and working should there be any delays in services. it was such a thoughtful, no cost thing and helped us immensely.

  72. LK says...

    Us and our neighbors moved in around the same time, and it took a little while to meet people. Once I started meeting people in our building, we branched out to our next door neighbors – and then my husbands best friend and girlfriend moved next door, and it was even easier to meet new people in their building. After 6 years, there’s a group of around 15 of us. Some of these people are my best friends or trusted sisters. Now when someone moves into the neighborhood, it’s easy to hand them my phone number and say “join us for a yard hang out!”.

    With Covid-19, more people are spending times on their porches or yards, so we can wave and say hello.

  73. AN says...

    We live on the most wonderful block and make a point of hanging out on our front lawn (simple blanket and two camp chairs thrown down), reading, drinking wine, playing cards, etc. I really believe that intentionally spending time in the front rather than on our own in the back is an unspoken invitation to build community, like the old watercooler at work. Hi’s and hello’s happen spontaneously, connections are made, a helping hand is offered and received…it’s made a world of positive difference in our own lives and, we hope, in our broader neighborhood.

    • Meghan says...

      I totally echo this experience!

  74. Katie says...

    We purchased our first home: a flat in a traditional Victorian tenement building in Scotland this year.

    Tenements typically have 2 flats per floor, so prior to the move we were eager/nervous about meeting our floor neighbours.

    They quickly came to knock on our door to say hello and let us know they’d also just moved in days before!

    We got chatting and realised that, like us, they were first time buyers, a similar age and had a huge renovation and restoration project to do on their flat that they were planning to largely DIY.

    We’ve ended up doing our renovations together: sharing big purchases like tools, ordering supplies to be delivered together and lending a hand with jobs that need a bit of extra muscle. One weekend we even hired a floor sander together and sanded the floorboards in both apartments!

    That knock on the door turned out to be the start of what we hope will be a long friendship.

    • Maureen says...

      I live in a tenement in Glasgow, Scotland! Tenements are the best.

  75. Meg says...

    My mama was a nut for emergency preparedness. When someone new moved in to the neighborhood she would show up with cookies and give them a small emergency folder to put in their coat closet. The folder included three plastic flags to put on your mailbox in the event of catastrophe (green-we’re ok and can help others, yellow-we are ok and need help soon, red-we urgently need help), a map of houses with who lived there, as well as a list of neighborhood resources such as where a nurse or firefighter lived or who had a chainsaw someone could use. Of course everyone had volunteered to be on the list. As a kid I thought it was so so weird but as an adult I feel like it would be awesome and so comforting to know the neighborhood was aligned and bonded as a community like that.

    • Madeleine says...

      Meg I love this! Your mama sounds like such a cool person.

  76. Emily’s says...

    Three years ago, when we moved 600 miles away to a new neighborhood, where we barely knew anyone, a neighbor showed up on moving day with a delicious home cooked dinner! I will never forget that, and have since reciprocated this kindness to others who have moved in to the neighborhood. Nothing like a delicious home cooked meal after a stressful day of setting up a new home and unpacking boxes.

  77. Claudia Gator says...

    During Covid’s lockdown my downstairs neighbour which is a 50 something years old math teacher, needed to teach from home using an internet connection. He doesn’t own a television (he listens to radio and music all the time), and although he has a computer he didn’t have an internet connection. As all internet suppliers were half working due to the lockdown, he had to wait like 2 weeks to have his internet service at home. So, in the meantime I gave him my wi-fi access and password.
    In return, every time he went shopping he would buy food and treats for my cats! He would just say “oh I found this and thought about your cats” :) So sweet.
    Also, during lockdown, I started baking cupcakes. I was experimenting, combining recipes, so I did dozens of cupcakes, banana, oats, apple, chickpea flour… and the majority turned out really good. My neighbours were my “guinea pigs”, I distributed the cupcakes by my neighbours.

  78. Kim says...

    When we moved into our home a decade ago (Rogers Park in Chicago) the sellers left a welcome note & a folder filled with take out menus, notes on the alarm system (with a temporary password so we could use it if we wanted), where to get extra keys made, cool shops in the area etc. They also included the names & brief run down of our immediate neighbors. Such a thoughtful gesture & great karma.

    • Emily says...

      Hello fellow Rogers Park-er! xx

  79. Anna says...

    We’re incredibly lucky to have wonderful neighbours and I think the pandemic has brought us even closer together- the shared suffering and inability to see people outside of our bubble has turned into many a porch visit (them on theirs, us on ours) and a neighbour pizza party on our front lawns. The other evening, she overheard me complaining about pregnancy pains (back, pubic bone, pretty much everything) and the next day in my mailbox was a bottle of Biofreeze! It has been an absolute life saver!
    Our other neighbours and their adult daughter have hidden gems all over their front yard for our 4-year-old son to find- something for him to do while we worked from home.
    When we talk to our son about people who he can trust, he lists each of our neighbours and there is no greater gift than that.

  80. Annie says...

    We just moved into our new home in northwest Philly. Our neighbor in the row house three doors down–an older gentlemen who lives by himself–showed up on our doorstep (mask on) with sidewalk chalk for our toddler. It was the sweetest and most thoughtful gesture!

    • shannon says...

      Between my husband and me, we’ve lived in Columbus, Denver, NYC, and Philadelphia. Our Philly neighbors are by far the warmest of everywhere we’ve lived. We even have a block captain who organized things like block clean ups. Hope you love NW Philly, we’re just a couple neighborhoods over from there in Logan!

  81. Gillian says...

    I love Westchester for this! When we moved into our Westchester home we got several bottles of wine, a bundt cake, lunch from the local deli, and spread sheet of all the families on our street with kids ages and names and numbers of all their caregivers to easily set up playdates. The woman we bought the house from left the cards of the plumber, electrician, HVAC guy, even the pest control and sprinkler companies she had used–10 years later we still use most of them.

  82. Maren says...

    When I moved into my first solo studio apartment in Brooklyn, I was determined to know my neighbors beyond meeting in the hallways. I home made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, bagged them up in gift bags, and wrote up a little hello card before hanging some on everyone’s door. I never became close friends with any of my neighbors but everyone LOVED the gesture, mentioned it whenever they saw me, and I noticed that my packages were always placed nicely by my door when I was out of town for a few days (instead of being left in the insecure atrium.) And best of all, no one complained when I would have dinner parties with 30 people in a 150 sqft apartment once a month LOL. People like having their neighbors back when they know who their neighbors are I think :)

  83. Emily says...

    My mom always bakes cookies or banana bread for new neighbors to introduce herself and welcome them to the neighborhood. We live in the south, but she says she’ll never forget that when my family moved to Ohio in the 90s (only a brief stint) she was shocked that no one in the neighborhood came to introduce themselves… so she ended up baking her own cookies to give to the neighbors to introduce herself as the newbie!

    • Deborah says...

      I’m also a banana bread baker! We spent the past six years in a little expat town in Saudi Arabia, and met the nicest neighbors via banana bread delivery.

  84. El says...

    Love this! Also, getting to know your neighbors is a great way to cut down on bringing the police into your neighborhood. :)

  85. jules says...

    I love this. We are actually closing on our first home in a new neighborhood early next week and I have wondered quite a few times how the neighbors will be. We have learned so much about the others in our apartment building over the last few years that leaving here pulls on my heart a bit. I just hope our new house neighbors are even half as nice as yours were! As someone who is very bad at making new friends and introducing (aka intruding) upon strangers, I’d love to hear if anyone has tips on how to meet the new neighbors from the mover’s side.

    • K says...

      SECOND! Moving next week. Although it’s completely unintentional, I’ve learned that my introversion and shyness can come across as standoffish. Trying to figure out ways to improve that without acting like a totally different person.

    • Lilly says...

      We’re closing in a few too! Moving early august. So excited, and nervous. We’ve always rented. Going to a condo building so it may not be super different but I’m excited anyway. Good luck with your move!

    • R says...

      Thirded! I’d also love a few tips on meeting neighbors and making friends in a new city, especially in an area where people seem to shuffle quickly into their apartments, and not talk. (COVID probably doesn’t help.)

      I’m also very shy and there have been times when I’ve squeaked out a “hi” only to be ignored by a neighbor walking by! (Ouch.) I’m sure there’s a better, more open and friendly way to put myself out there and create chances to get to know those around me.

    • Elle says...

      Hi all! As someone who moved on March 14th, the very day a National State of Emergency was declared, I’ll share what has worked for me. I met all of my neighbors during quarantine. I purchased these cards (https://www.etsy.com/listing/620021578/hi-neighbor-mister-rogers-sneakers?ref=user_profile&frs=10), made a Smitten Kitchen chocolate chip cookie recipe, and made masked deliveries. Afterward, when working in the front yard, folks would stop and chat. I’ve now been offered daylily bulbs and a rose bush. A widow that I cooked a meal for after learning she didn’t have a working oven introduced me to two other neighbors. I’ve since had them over for coffee twice. (Here in Wichita we’re in phase 2.5 of reopening).
      That’s been reciprocated with banana bread. I’ve found that people want connection, but they often don’t know how to initiate it. Once you open that door, goodness just flows in. Good luck!

    • SG says...

      Hi All!
      In all three houses we have lived in as a married couple, we have never had any neighbors come over to introduce themselves! (We live in the South, too, so c’mon y’all!) Anyway, after waiting a couple of weeks with no visits from the new neighbors, we have gone to introduce ourselves to them! I usually just pick up something easy but nice from a bakery (since I don’t know if people want homemade treats from a stranger) and go knock on their door! I have attached an index card with our names and our kids’ ages. It has always been well received. Life is short – be proactive! : )

    • Lila says...

      I can’t say I’m great at this, but the last time I moved 2 years ago, I made a real effort to introduce myself to everyone and say that I was new in the building, whether it be in the elevator, the mail room, or the hallway. I feel like being new also gives you an excuse to reintroduce yourself, or apologetically ask for someone’s name a second time. I also suggested exchanging #s with my immediate neighbors. I can’t say it’s ended up as friendship, but I like being on chatting terms with people.

    • R says...

      Thanks everyone! Any tips for a single young gal living in a city? Maybe one day I’ll live in a cute small town, but right now I feel lost in a big city! I had this idea in my head that I’d know everyone in my building, and that we’d all go to block parties together. But so far it’s all very anonymous.

    • jules says...

      Thanks so much for the suggestions ladies! Also, congrats K and Lilly! I totally get the idea that we may come as standoffish. I’ve been told many times that I am “not approachable”, but really I’m just real scared! I am going to try to have some wine and work up the courage when I see them outside (since COVID will give me an excuse to not go to their door) and hope for the best. Good luck on your moves :)

  86. Sondra says...

    When I first moved to Connecticut, my neighbor gave me a vase full of flowers. He told me that the lady who we bought the house from had given it to him, full of flowers, when he moved in decades ago. She said that she had gotten it when she moved in! He asked me to pass it on to new neighbors as a welcome gift. I was so touched by the thought that something could last, through generations and households to welcome someone new into the neighborhood. I became very attached to that vase but when new neighbors moved in across the street, I knew the vase needed to move on. I filled it with flowers from the yard and walked it over, telling the new neighbors it’s story. I like to believe that it is still being passed on, welcoming a new generation of new neighbors.

    • Klara says...

      Oh I love this!

      When I moved out my previous appartments, I always planted little shoots from my own plants in pots and left one for each neighbour and for the next owner. I like the idea that something that made my home there, still lives there.

    • Katie says...

      Well, now I’m crying ? what a lovely story! ❤

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      amazing!

  87. Abby says...

    When my husband and I moved into our neighborhood of 1920 homes a couple of years ago, a neighbor stopped by with freshly picked strawberries in a basked that she wove – SHE WOVE! It was an incredibly sweet token of her thoughtfulness and creativity. The Midwest is so charming.

  88. Rachel says...

    in my church congregation, whenever someone new moves into the area we have a print out of great pediatricians, OBGYNS, dentists etc along with the best pizza, favorite local beaches (were in Virginia Beach area) and parks, a list of babysitters that can be trusted…And people that volunteer to be essentially be their “point” person, so if they have any questions, or need help anytime of day these people will be there. Moving to a new area can be so overwhelming and lonely its so nice to not be alone, and not have to do a bunch of research of which doc to pic!